- Last Updated: 1:54 AM, July 1, 2012
- Posted: 9:23 PM, June 30, 2012
Chris Santos, the 41-year-old “Chopped” judge and chef-owner of late night hotspot Beauty & Essex, is used to hosting fellow cooks into the wee hours. “Dave Chang was here last week,” the 20-year city veteran says. “Scott Conant and Marcus Samuelsson are in here quite a bit. Eddie Huang comes here late night with a posse. ” Meanwhile, at Santos’ sister restaurant, the Stanton Social, after-hours regulars include Mario Batali and Gavin Kaysen. When he’s not entertaining his culinary colleagues well into the evening, he satisfies his own midnight cravings at their joints. These are his late-night NYC eats.
1. Blue Ribbon, 97 Sullivan St., between Spring and Prince streets, 212-274-0404
“I moved here in 1993. I’m old. Nothing makes you feel older than saying I’ve been a chef in New York City for 20 years. One of the places that remains on my list is the original Blue Ribbon on Sullivan Street. It’s still always packed. It used to be the only late night hangout spot, and I’d go there a minimum of three times a month. I still order the duck club (above), which has been the same sandwich since 1997.”
2. Casa Mono, 52 Irving Place, 212-253-2773
“The foie gras with five onions (above) is outrageous. I love to get there for the very last seating, around 11:45 p.m. I’ll usually go with (Buttermilk Channel’s) Ryan Angulo. When we get there, it’s full, and then it winds down. It’s a nice way to relax after a busy night, and we end up being the last ones there. I’m usually out of there by 1:15 — I’m super aware I don’t keep the staff late and be ‘that guy.’ ”
3. Minetta Tavern, 113 MacDougal St., between Bleecker and Third streets, 212-475-3850
“Mark Pastore [president of Pat LaFrieda meats] does signature [hamburger] blends for several restaurants, including mine. He introduced me to the chef here, so now I call the chef myself and get in. I like the corner booth in the main dining room where you can see the entire room in front of you and people watch. I usually go after 10:30 or 11 p.m. and get the Black Label Burger and a tequila, neat. I’m 41 years old so I’m not chugging shots of tequila anymore. That’s so 2001. Mark goes for a steak — I think he’s tired of hamburger.”
4. Avenue, 116 10th Ave., between 17th and 18th streets, 212-337-0054
“It doesn’t even begin to pick up until after midnight, so I go around 1 a.m. and leave around 2:30 a.m. I’ve shared tables with Gordon Ramsay. He was very nice. It’s not unusual to bump into him or Todd English. I like to do 1942 Don Julio tequila — the good stuff. It’s expensive but really worth it.”
5. La Esquina, 114 Kenmare St., at Lafayette Street, 646-613-7100
“Roble Ali gets super excited about food, he’s like my protégé, so we go and grab a bite to eat. We usually go to La Esquina, downstairs past the kitchen – say ‘hello’ to Akhtar [Nawab] the chef. The roasted pork tacos are crazy good, usually paired with a lot of tequila.”
6. Maison Premiere, 298 Bedford Ave., between Grand and S. First streets, 347-335-0446
“I love this place. If it were in the East Village, I’d go every night of the week. It feels like stepping back to an earlier time, it oozes sensuality. It’s a great date place. My girlfriend lives in LA, and it’s usually our first date when she gets in town. We get there at midnight or later. I like to sit at the center of the bar. My girlfriend orders oysters and I get the gumbo and the Blind Boy Paxton. It’s unbelievably delicious, so easy to drink. Very dangerous. It’s frothy and has some body from egg whites. There’s also mezcal, white rum, lime, chile, cinnamon syrup.”
And where will Santos be dining al fresco this summer? At the very least, the annual “Chopped” barbecue, an all-day/all-night affair, which host Ted Allen throws at his home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, for his co-stars. “Last year, Geoffrey Zakarian did an amazing tomato and peach salad with burratta, and Amanda Freitag made amazing jerk-chicken thighs,” he says. This year, Santos will be making grilled chipotle shrimp — and now, you can, too. Note: Recipe makes enough marinade for about 50 servings.
1/4 cup lime juice
1 can of chipotle
2 tablespoons ancho powder
1 bunch of cilantro
15 garlic cloves
1 quart of blended oil
Blend the lime juice, chipotle, cilantro and garlic. Slowly add the oil. Pour over shrimp, poultry or fish, and chill for one day.